celiac disease


celiac disease
a hereditary digestive disorder involving intolerance to gluten, usually occurring in young children, characterized by marked abdominal distention, malnutrition, wasting, and the passage of large, fatty, malodorous stools.
Also called celiac-sprue /see"lee ak sprooh'/.
[1935-40]

* * *

or nontropical sprue

Digestive disorder in which people cannot tolerate gluten, a protein constituent of wheat, barley, malt, and rye flours.

In celiac disease, gluten generates an immune response that damages the mucous lining of the small intestine; it is believed that a deficiency of gluten-digesting enzymes may underlie the disease. Poor nutrient absorption causes foul, bulky, fatty stools; malnutrition; stunting of growth; and anemia similar to pernicious anemia. It can run in families. Children begin having intermittent intestinal upset, diarrhea, and wasting at 6–21 months. In adults it usually begins after 30, with appetite loss, depression, irritability, and diarrhea. Symptoms in advanced cases stem from nutritional deficiencies and may require supportive measures. A high-protein diet low in glutens and saturated fats usually relieves symptoms.

* * *

also called  nontropical sprue  or  celiac sprue 

      an inherited autoimmune digestive disorder in which people cannot tolerate gluten, a protein constituent of wheat, barley, malt, and rye flours. General symptoms of the disease include the passage of foul, pale-coloured stools (steatorrhea), progressive malnutrition, diarrhea, decreased appetite and weight loss, multiple vitamin deficiencies, stunting of growth, abdominal pain, skin rash, and defects in tooth enamel. Advanced disease may be characterized by anemia, osteoporosis, vision disturbances, or amenorrhea (absence of menstruation in women).

      The way in which the disease manifests varies widely. For example, some people experience severe gastrointestinal symptoms, whereas others are asymptomatic, are irritable and depressed, or develop an itchy skin rash with blisters, known as dermatitis herpetiformis. If left undiagnosed or uncontrolled, celiac disease may lead to intestinal adenocarcinoma (malignant tumour of glandular tissue) or intestinal lymphoma or to miscarriage in pregnant (pregnancy) women. Pregnant women affected by the disease and thus suffering from vitamin deficiencies are also at an increased risk for giving birth to infants with congenital disorders (congenital disorder).

      In children (childhood disease and disorder), celiac disease begins within several months of adding gluten-containing foods such as cereal to the diet. However, the onset of the disease is also influenced by the length of time the child was breast-fed and by the amount of gluten that the child ingests. The disease frequently is first noticed following an infection and is chronic, with periods of intestinal upset, diarrhea, and failure to grow and gain weight, interspersed with periods of apparent normality. Adult celiac disease commonly begins past the age of 30, but it may appear at an earlier age following severe stress, surgery, or childbirth.

      Several gene mutations have been identified in celiac disease; however, genetic mutations themselves do not give rise to the disease. Instead, it is triggered by the combination of genetic and environmental factors; i.e., when a genetically predisposed individual eats foods containing gluten. In people with celiac disease, gluten stimulates the immune system to produce autoantibodies (autoantibody) that damage the mucosal (mucous membrane) lining of the small intestine.

      In most cases, celiac disease can be diagnosed (diagnosis) by blood tests for anti-tissue transglutaminase antibody and anti-endomysial antibody. Diagnosis is usually confirmed by endoscopic examination and biopsy of the small intestine. endoscopy provides visual evidence of intestinal damage, marked by flattening of the villi (villus) in the mucosal lining, which normally project into the intestinal cavity and increase the surface area available for nutrient absorption. Biopsied tissue is examined for the presence of certain lymphocytes (lymphocyte) that indicate inflammation caused by gluten.

      Celiac disease is estimated to occur, on average, in about 1 in every 266 people worldwide; however, only about three percent of these people are actually diagnosed with celiac disease. This is in part because some people are asymptomatic, but it is also attributed to misdiagnosis, since many symptoms of the disease are similar to other conditions, including irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn disease, and chronic fatigue syndrome. Several autoimmune diseases have mutations in the same chromosomal region as celiac disease, and although the underlying mechanisms remain unclear, these diseases often develop in association with celiac disease. As a result, the longer a person with celiac disease remains undiagnosed or misdiagnosed, the more likely they are to develop an associated autoimmune disease, such as a thyroid (thyroid gland) disorder, type I diabetes (diabetes mellitus), or autoimmune hepatitis.

      The symptoms of most patients are relieved by strict adherence to a gluten-free diet. In children the intestinal mucosa is usually healed within several months to one year of initiating the diet, and in adults, it is usually healed within two years. In rare cases, symptoms and destruction of the mucosal lining may progress despite a gluten-free diet; these individuals generally receive intravenous vitamin therapy.

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • celiac disease — n a chronic hereditary intestinal disorder in which an inability to absorb the gliadin portion of gluten results in the gliadin triggering an immune response that damages the intestinal mucosa called also celiac sprue, gluten sensitive… …   Medical dictionary

  • celiac disease — n. a chronic nutritional disorder, usually of young children, caused by faulty absorption of gluten in the intestines and characterized by diarrhea and malnutrition …   English World dictionary

  • celiac disease — A digestive disease that is caused by an immune response to a protein called gluten, which is found in wheat, rye, barley, and oats. Celiac disease damages the lining of the small intestine and interferes with the absorption of nutrients from… …   English dictionary of cancer terms

  • celiac disease — noun Date: 1911 a chronic hereditary intestinal disorder in which an inability to absorb the gliadin portion of gluten results in the gliadin triggering an immune response that damages the intestinal mucosa called also celiac sprue …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • celiac disease — n. coeliac disease, intestinal digestive disorder caused by excessive sensitivity of the small intestine to gluten …   English contemporary dictionary

  • celiac disease — ce′liac disease n. pat a hereditary digestive disorder involving intolerance to gluten, malnultrition and fatty stools • Etymology: 1935–40 …   From formal English to slang

  • celiac disease — noun a disorder in children and adults; inability to tolerate wheat protein (gluten); symptoms include foul smelling diarrhea and emaciation; often accompanied by lactose intolerance • Hypernyms: ↑disorder, ↑upset …   Useful english dictionary

  • National Celiac Disease Awareness Day — A resolution was passed in the U. S. Senate, making September 13 National Celiac Disease Awareness Day. It is the birthday of Samuel Gee. Categories: September observances …   Wikipedia

  • adult celiac disease — the adult form of celiac disease (q.v.) …   Medical dictionary

  • infantile celiac disease — see celiac d …   Medical dictionary


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.